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What is your thought process when entering a pot?

ArenzanoArenzano Posts: 1,464Subscriber
I am curious to know what you guys are thinking when you are entering a pot. Whether you are open limping, raising, flatting, or 3betting. Are you trying to plan the enitre hand or are you only thinking about 2 streets and leaving how the hand is played before any river decisions? What line considerations are you making?

This may be a short term sample, but in my last two sessions, I am having trouble trying to range people based on my perceptions and their prior play. Which has caused me trouble trying plan how I want to play my hand. Recently, I have just seen some really weird hands at showdown. I am not involved in all of these hands, because I do my best to watch everything as close as I can.


  • OminousCowOminousCow Posts: 702Subscriber
    An important step 0 is to gather as much information about players at the table as possible as quickly as possible; the tendencies of other players at the table should be a major factor throughout the hand and enters into my thought process constantly.

    It's hard to lay out in a super organized way and I'm sure I'm leaving things out but my thought flow is roughly:

    0. Gather information on players (including stack sizes of people ahead and behind me)
    1. Make sure I know what position I'm in.
    2. Follow the action leading up to me.
    2a. Based on this action and step 0 try to put players on approximate ranges.
    2b. Think about what sort of ranges I want to fold, call, or raise with based on who is already in and who is left to act.
    2c. Often players behind you will give strong indications of whether or not they are going to fold. Check for that if I can.
    2d. If I want to raise, what do I want my sizing to be?
    3. Look at my cards and act according to the plan formulated in 2b.
    4. See what happens behind me.

    Not raised:
    5. If I don't get raised, see who called and start formulating approximate game plan based on players still in the hand.
    5a. Did a lot of players call? How big are their stacks? What are their tendencies?
    5b. Do these players tend to fold/call/bet? Are they passive or aggressive? Am I more likely to get money from value betting or giving them rope?

    V. If I get raised, re-evaluate my relative hand strength based on the re-raiser and action coming around to me.
    Va. How deep are stacks if I call? How does my hand play with those stacks?
    Vb. What are the tendencies of the raiser? Is he good or bad? Does he 3bet wide or narrow?
    Vc. Should I fold, call, or raise?

    Obviously each of these points could be greatly expanded upon. My preflop plans are quite vague since specific actions rely on information that is not yet known. I think you should definitely have some idea of whether you will be betting/barrelling light or just for value and/or trying to induce before the flop comes out. Decisions should be arrived at when you have more information rather than deciding before the hand plays out. This is not the same as not having a plan though; it is having a plan that bases action on information that you will acquire later.
  • OminousCowOminousCow Posts: 702Subscriber
    Also, don't be too discouraged if you are surprised by what people do. Sometimes people just do crazy unpredictable things. People be crazy yo!

    Try not to overweight what you. The tendency that most people have is to see someone do something bizarre and then assume that that person is doing bizarre things *constantly* when they in fact are not.
  • AdamGabbertAdamGabbert Posts: 12Subscriber
    To follow up with the point above from ominous cow, one big factor when evaluating players at this level is remembering where their head is at. Did they just take a big beat, will affect their likely reaction to your decision. Are they about to leave...did they just arrive...are they up or down for the session...at these levels players are very susceptible to tilt or other factors that pros aren't. For instance, my local card room is 3 hours away. I'm not driving 3 hours to be busted out of 2 buy ins in my 1st 30 minutes. Or if I'm stuck 2 buyins and am about to leave I have no problem shoving in light to try and get lucky and unstuck.
  • ArenzanoArenzano Posts: 1,464Subscriber
    Those are all good thoughts. Typically, before I decide to enter a pot, I am looking at who has entered ahead of me and whether or not they have limped, raised or over limped. I consider position, especially EP or someone who is opening, as often times I tend to believe they are coming in with broadways or small PP if they are limping and bigger PPs or AK, AQ type hands if they are raising.

    I do pay attention to player tendencies, who will fold to a raise, who won't fold to a raise, who always seems to think "I got pot odds!' etc. I am usually looking to cbet most flops unless they are highly coordinated and/or I am against multiple players - obviously considering position as well.

    I find that some players are hard to range because they literally are playing ATC, which is good for them. I try to keep people guessing too, because it makes you hard to play against.
  • OminousCowOminousCow Posts: 702Subscriber
    Remember that when someone plays ATC, their range is extremely weak. Against these players you should be double and triple barrelling liberally because only very rarely will they make a hand that is worthy of calling down. Once in a while they will make a monster but usually it is extremely obvious when they do and they will be hemorrhaging money from all the hands that they limp-call, check-call, check-fold.

    Such players sometimes limp their entire range, but they often raise when they have a decent hand and limp-call everything else. This makes it even easier to play against them since when the board comes Big-Little-Little they very very rarely have anything, nor can they realistically represent anything. If you run into someone who plays ATC and is then aggressive later in the hand consistently, they are trying to represent a *much* stronger hand range than they can possibly have and you are in a great spot to try to induce them to bluff or to bluff them by playing back.

    When you are playing against a wide range, trying to put someone on an exact hand is not possible and sometimes a total blank looking card will give them a weird straight or two pair. However, as long as you can extract value with your good hands and exploit their weak range, they will not be able to recoup their losses when they hit their miracle. People also really really don't like it when someone keeps pounding on them in position. Pretty quickly these players will either start spewing off or making terrible terrible call downs.
  • ArenzanoArenzano Posts: 1,464Subscriber
    I hadn't thought about that in quite those terms. Often I feel their range is weak, so I am looking for spots where I know I'm ahead of their range and can extract, other times I just try avoid. I realize that probably makes me a nit or nut peddler. So I need to be more willing to put pressure on these villains - without going crazy of course?
  • OminousCowOminousCow Posts: 702Subscriber
    Yep, that's right. Pick some spots where you have some reasonably guaranteed equity like say two overs and a gutshot and give double barrelling a try where you would often check historically. You will probably be surprised at just how often you get folds. Something else to do is to think back to the times where you have double and triple barrelled for value. How often do you get called down in those spots?

    You can also use other people at the table as a test case for your lines. If you see someone double and triple barrelling a lot and having a good amount of success, then it's quite likely that you will too.

    One more thing that I noticed when I started playing in casinos is just how often the action went check-call, check-call, check-snap fold to quite small betsizing. If you are surrounded by players who are just hoping to hit their draws and fold without a second thought when they miss, you don't need to actually make hands. You just need them to not hit (which will happen a lot). If they always fold the river, then you are missing out on a lot of bluff value (if you can call it that) by not betting turns.
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